February 4, 2016

The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke

Title:  The City and the Stars
Author:  Arthur C. Clarke
Pages:  281
Genre:  Science Fiction
Publisher:  Warner Books, 2001
Series:  Stand Alone
For quivering in evanescent beauty above the base of the fall was the last rainbow left on Earth.
Synopsis:  The ten-billion-year-old metropolis of Diaspar is humanity's last home.  Alone among immortals, the only man born in ten million years wants to find what lies beyond the City.  His quest will uncover the destiny of a people...and a galaxy.
And then, at the end of the Universe, as time itself was faltering to a stop, Vanamonde and the Mad Mind must meet each other among the corpses of the stars.
Review:  This book is what science fiction is all about.  Originally published in 1956, the story has technologies that we still haven't managed today.  It's also an incredible adventure which in no way seems aged or old-fashioned.

Alvin is the main character and, unlike all the other inhabitants of Diaspar, this is the first time he's lived.  All the other people live for a thousand years, turn themselves back into the computer memory banks, and wait to be reborn again after a good, long rest.  Some people have lived a dozen or more lives and they can remember all of them.  But Alvin has never, in all the billions of years, lived before.

He wants more than anything to know what is outside the domed city.  He wants to see the stars, the sun, mountains and oceans.  But the teachings say that there is nothing but desert on the whole planet Earth and that Diaspar is the only place people can survive.  The teachings also say that once man had an empire in the stars.  But they were beaten by an aggressive species and forced back to Earth, where only Diaspar still survives.

I think the part about this story I found most disturbing is that genetics have been completely mastered.  People are immortal.  They have no nails or teeth because they are unnecessary.  The only body hair they have is on their heads.  They can still have sex, but normal reproduction is no longer possible.  Why bother with reproduction when the computers can make new people?  The list of 'improvements' made goes on and it made me a little uncomfortable thinking about it.

Alvin sets out to prove the teachings and his people's beliefs wrong.  His quest and what he finds will change the course of humanity.  And his story made for a unbelievably great novel, one that I will never forget.

Rating:  10 / 10

5 comments:

  1. Wow, this book seems amazing. It's going right on my TBR list. Great review!

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  2. I agree with Crystal! your review makes it sound good! :)

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  3. This book sounds amazing :) Great post!

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  4. Wow, this book seems to be more than mere entertainment, it touches on lessons of morality. I do enjoy this books! Thanks for placing this one on my radar :)

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